World briefs

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Ten killed, 200 injured in Bangladesh explosion

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- At least four bombs exploded Saturday in a packed movie theater and a crowded circus show in southwestern Bangladesh, killing at least 10 people and injuring 200, police said.

The death toll was likely to rise since many of the injured were taken to hospitals in serious condition, a police official said on condition of anonymity.

Two bombs went off at Roxie Cinema Hall, a movie theater in Satkhira town, 110 miles southwest of the capital, Dhaka. A capacity crowd was watching the evening show, the officer said.

Within minutes and a few blocks away, two more bombs blew up in a crowded circus show at a stadium in the town center, the officer said.

The explosions occurred as thousands of people, many of them children, were in the streets to celebrate Gurpukur Fair, a century-old festival honoring a local Hindu king. Muslims also participate in the festival.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions.

14 killed in stampede after rally in India

LUCKNOW, India -- Thousands of people stampeded toward a railway station in northern India Saturday, killing at least 14 and injuring another 19, officials said.

More casualties were feared as police tried to restore order in the area and open the way for emergency services, a senior police official said.

Fourteen bodies had been recovered, he said. The injured were taken to several hospitals in Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, India's political heartland and most populous state.

Hundreds of thousands of members of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party had assembled in Lucknow Saturday for a massive show of strength.

The stampede occurred as political workers tried to force their way toward the railroad station to get into already overcrowded trains, said Divisional Railway Manager Kamlesh Gupta.

India's Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani was among the political leaders who spoke at the rally. Advani's party is an ally of the state's ruling party.

World's youngest country joins the United Nations

UNITED NATIONS -- East Timor, the world's youngest country, became the 191st member of the United Nations on Friday, just months after achieving independence and three years after shaking off often-brutal Indonesian occupation.

Diplomats from around the world applauded, rather than formally voted, to accept the tiny Southeast Asian nation, ruled by Portugal for centuries, as the newest U.N. member. The country's president, Xanana Gusmao, vowed to build a "tolerant and just" society from a community wracked by decades of violence and suffering.

"Peace and stability are what our people yearn for," said the 55-year-old Gusmao, who was welcomed at a ceremony in the General Assembly Hall by ambassadors and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Gusmao, a former guerrilla fighter who spent seven years in jail and under house arrest, and Annan stood under an overcast sky as U.N. guards hoisted the black, red and yellow flag and a flutist played the Timorese national anthem.

The United Nations took over the administration of East Timor in 1999 after its people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

China hands over remains thought to be U.S. crew

BEIJING -- A joint U.S.-Chinese search team has found remains believed to be the crew of an American cargo plane that crashed in Tibet during World War II, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Chinese officials held a ceremony Friday in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, formally handing over the remains to a team from a U.S. military laboratory, Xinhua said.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Beijing said he couldn't confirm whether the American team had found any remains. U.S. officials in Washington couldn't immediately be reached for comment. The team is to hold a news conference Monday in Beijing, the spokesman said, on customary condition of anonymity.

Xinhua said the remains were believed to be those of the crew of a transport that crashed in 1945 while flying the route known as "The Hump" over the Himalayas from India to China's wartime capital of Kunming.

Thousands of Allied planes made the flight over the dangerous, high-altitude route carrying weapons and supplies to Chinese forces.

Remains of other U.S. military pilots have been recovered from crash sites in Tibet in 1983, 1991 and 1994, according to Xinhua.

Activists put pressure on Nigeria in stoning case

LONDON -- Human rights activists seeking a reprieve for a woman sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria intensified international pressure Friday by delivering a petition signed by more than 1 million people to Nigerian officials.

The case of 30-year-old Amina Lawal, who is slated to be stoned to death for having sex outside marriage, has provoked an international outcry.

Government and human rights groups around the world have urged Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo's government to intercede in the sentence.

Peter Ogbonnaya, chief of information for Nigeria in London, said Friday his government was confident Lawal would not be stoned because such a sentence violates the Nigerian constitution.

"The appeal process has not been completed," he said.

Activists for Amnesty International, who delivered the petition were not satisfied.

--From wire reports

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